Eight microsatellite markers for the root vole (Microtus oeconomus) were developed to assess the amount of genetic variation for nine Dutch root vole populations from four different regions, and to evaluate the degree of differentiation and isolation. All eight microsatellite loci were found to be highly variable with observed heterozygosity values ranging from 0.61 to 0.82. These values are similar to those observed for more distant populations from Norway, Finland and Germany. Therefore, the populations seem not particularly depauperate of genetic variation at the microsatellite level. Genetically, the Dutch populations were found to have diverged considerably. Pairwise comparisons of all populations studied revealed FST values significantly greater than zero for most comparisons. However, the magnitude of these values considerably depends on the compared population pair. The level of differentiation between local populations within Dutch regions is generally significantly lower than the differentiation between Dutch regions. The level of differentiation between Dutch regions, however, is not significantly different from that between populations of larger geographical distance. This implies that the regional Dutch populations are both isolated from each other and from other European populations. The observation that even local populations show low but significant genetic differentiation may be indicative for progressive isolation of these populations.
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